'Genocide' big word at London anti-Israel academic conference

From the www.monabaker.com archive (legacy material)

ATARAH HABER | The Jerusalem Post | 7 December 2004

An international conference entitled "Resisting Israeli Apartheid," held at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London on Sunday, was predictably nothing more than a "one-sided rant against Israel," Gavin Gross, chairman of the SOAS Jewish Society told The Jerusalem Post. The conference was organized by the university's Palestine Society and was attended by Palestinian and Jewish intellectuals from various countries, all of whom spoke on the conflict in the Middle East. Palestinian political analyst Omar Barghouti informed the students, in a speech entitled "Boycott as Resistance," that "the Hebrew University in Jerusalem is sitting on ethnically cleansed Arab land" and that "IDF actions are similar to, though certainly not on the same scale as, the Nazis." Gross said he saw the sole purpose of the conference as an attempt to incite hatred and delegitimize the Jewish homeland. It was "a propaganda event for extremists on the Palestinian side," he said, rather than a balanced academic conference to discuss the plight of the Palestinians. The Jewish Society, in response, joined forces with Peace Now UK to arrange a counter-conference that focused on possible resolutions to the Middle East conflict and stressed the need to achieve security and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians. The event successfully created a dialogue between Jews and Palestinians, Gross said. Regarding the Palestine Society conference, SOAS finance and communications officer Frances Hawley told the Post that the Student Union "supports all of our societies equally. All of the societies have equal budgets," and the university supports them in organizing any events they deem necessary, as long as they are within the bounds of the law. Also appearing at the conference were Palestinian Solidarity Campaign UK representative Betty Hunter, who stated that "our aim is to make Israel a pariah state," and Haim Bresheeth, an Israeli academic at the University of East London, who informed his audience that "the occupation started in 1948." Bresheeth further said, "There is no valid comparison between South Africa and Israel; Israel is much worse. South Africa exploited its native population while Israel expelled and committed genocide against its native population." According to those who attended the conference, the word "genocide" was employed numerous times to describe Israeli actions against Palestinians. Oxford University lecturer Tom Paulin, who has publicly advocated the mass murder of Israeli and Jewish citizens, was the keynote speaker at the event. "I can understand how suicide bombers feel," he said in an interview with the Egyptian weekly newspaper Al-Ahram. "I think, though, it is better to resort to guerrilla warfare... Attacks on civilians in fact boost morale. Hitler bombed London into submission but in fact it created a sense of national solidarity." Paulin, in the same interview, expressed his views on Jewish immigrants to Israel, in particular Brooklyn-born ones: "They should be shot dead. I think they are Nazis, racists; I feel nothing but hatred for them."